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Shaping a sustainably desirable world

By Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 28, 2024 5:00 am

Tech Eden may seem antinomic the way technology has been demonized as one of the contributors to the destruction of nature’s state as an idyllic paradise, but at the recent Maison & Objet show in Paris, this was the chosen inspirational theme for the year. Subtitled “A New Natural Awakening,” it explores the profound evolution in the relationship between science and nature as the basis for a sustainable and desirable future.

At a time of climate crisis, “science and technology appear to be the tools of a modern human who is incapable of reason and sobriety, a human who is almost fighting against the natural world,” observes Brune Ouakrat, strategic planner and prospectivist of the creative strategy agency Peclers Paris. 

The need to depolarize the tension between the two worlds is realized in science fiction’s many futuristic stories, having an influence on aesthetic creation while inspiring advancements in society. Instead of the desolate futures of dystopias or the unreal and perfect worlds of utopias, notions of “protopia” are being born, propelling us into an ideal yet not unrealistic Eden at the crossroads of anticipation and scientific reality.

Villa Ortizet by Zyva Studio and Charlotte Taylor

Whereas the old science-fiction films like 2001: A Space Odyssey chart man’s journey through space and time at the mercy of mysterious aliens while he tries to reclaim space, the new-generation narratives seek to regain an original paradise and a return to a wild existence exalted by scientific progress.

The film Avatar 2 conjures a poetic universe that is very much like this aspirational Eden, immersing us in a fantastical environment where nature and technology coexist harmoniously. 

This concurrence inspires a repertoire of shapes as dreamlike as they are technical. “Sustainability becomes a prerequisite and its aesthetic expression distances itself from a frugal sobriety and evolves into more magic and sensoriality,” says Charlotte Cazals, designer and trends forecaster of Peclers.

Scara Incognita by Vincent Fournier, 2023

Artificial Intelligence serves as a tool for creating new, sensitive worlds as the use of immersive and interactive tools places technology at the service of human and planetary well-being. With this Tech Eden, lifestyle products, consumption and travel patterns will evolve towards a natural and technical awakening.

Oiseau Mémoire by Vincent Fournier, 2023

Peclers has observed interesting signals to understand the social and cultural context in which Tech Eden is developing. “Inasmuch as science fiction stimulates a feeling of escape, it can also be in service of reality,” says Ouakrat.

Cloudy Travelling Dog by Vincent Fournier, 2023

She cites the exhibit of Vincent Fournier, “Uchronie,” exploring our relationship with nature and technology through the lens of an alternate version of history: What if animals were gifted with poetry? What if we walk on Mars while remaining on earth? This fictional reconstruction of history allows us to imagine futures that didn’t happen. Blurring the line between reality and fiction, we are made to contemplate the relationships between history, technology, nature and the possibilities of a different evolutionary path for life.

The homes of tomorrow
Once Upon A Dream at Hotel de Marc in Rheims, France

If reality has gone beyond science fiction, works of fiction are now inserting themselves into reality. The Sea Pods created by Ocean Builders, for example—floating houses that rise three meters above the sea—look straight out of a sci-fi film. Available to purchase in Panama, they favor the development of underwater biodiversity, making it possible to live on water while maintaining a comfortable and sustainable lifestyle.

Sea Pods by Ocean Builders in Panama

The homes of tomorrow are evolving into well-being cocoons, inspiring and fascinating with their ability to hybridize references thanks to new technologies. The “Once Upon A Dream” capsule room at Hotel de Marc, for example, encourages restorative sleep through a programmable management of natural day/night cycles.

Maybourne Riviera Monaco

Borders between the digital and plant worlds are blurred to create new aesthetic codes as interiors are adorned with objects that look almost unreal due to the hybridized nature of their chimerical appearance and digitalized forms. Lines are bent, walls are becoming more fluid and are making room for a greater sense of freedom and adaptability for our needs and lifestyles.

The future of hospitality

At the show, Peclers had an exhibit, “Inspire Me!” that explores how the reconciliation between science and nature can be applied to hospitality. As visitors look for new forms of escape, hospitality venues have to offer well-being and hybridization just like in the home, creating unique, unexpected, sensitive and versatile experiences. It must be part of a common thread of organizing daily life, respecting biophilic rhythms in three phases.

Awakening phase: Well-being Café
The Well-Being Café at Maison & Objet

Café Dressing For Fun Renewal by NTF Architecture in Chengdu, China

The Well-Being Café is where food is the primary lever for achieving a healthy, balanced lifestyle. From the light to the materials and shapes, it is designed as a holistic device to awaken the senses, a space for an in-and-out beauty ritual that invites us to reconnect with our bodies and the world. Specially designed food embodies hybridity through details like edible papers that are exceptionally nutritious and environment-friendly while offering a unique aesthetic experience.

Active phase: Gym station
The Gym Station at Maison & Objet

As one wants to make the most of everyday life, waiting is transformed into a continual opportunity for activity, illustrated by a train station waiting room that becomes a place to re-energize through reading or physical exercise. Moving away from boredom, the transit area becomes a space to take care of oneself, body, and mind. An immersive video in front of a bike transports you to new, imaginary worlds. Isolated through air-purifying headphones, one is carried away by the hybrid imagination of objects evocative of times to come. 

Regenerative phase: The spa room
The Spa Room at Maison & Objet

The Spa Laurea in Portugal

The Spa Room is an intimate bubble of luxury with components that make it an ultra-personalized protective cocoon for the ultimate pampering experience. The centerpiece is a “Sound Bath” where you can lie back and enjoy an enveloping and relaxing acoustic experience. Enveloping sensual materials, the narrative sophistication of every object and organic shape immerses visitors in a fantasy of nature designed to stimulate and regenerate the senses.